Trump picks business before people
named Rex Tillerson, chief executive of Exxon Mobil, as his pick for secretary of state. He had previously picked Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn to head the National Economic Council, a key policymaking body. Beijing News commented on Wednesday:
Picking candidates for high Cabinet positions largely depends on their loyalty to the new administration and the president’s trust in their communication skills and capability to execute orders from above.
Former treasury secretary Paul O’Neill in the George W. Bush administration is an apt example of efficiently lobbying for congressional support and managing economic issues without provoking unnecessary attention. He also had a successful record leading Alcoa Inc, the largest United States aluminum producer, before he entered the White House.
It is understandable that Trump’s Cabinet would contain a few from Wall Street to guide
economic policymaking, especially those who also served in government posts. But Trump’s team of former CEOs has raised concerns about the new government’s efficiency. Notably his treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and White House adviser Steve Bannon also worked at Goldman Sachs.
On the one hand, reining in these senior executives and having them do as told will not be easy if that is what Trump aims to achieve. And it remains unclear whether they will put their business interests before the need to improve people’s well-being, a much-touted promise of Trump’s campaign.